by Julie Klassen
Find out more about this book and author:
Twitter @julie_klassen and @Bethany_House
Published: December 2014
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Genre: Christian, Historical, Jane Austen theme, Romance
Paperback: 464 pages
In the spring of 1818, twenty-four-year-old Abigail Foster fears she is destined to become a spinster. Her family’s finances are in ruins and the one young man she truly esteems has fallen for another woman — her younger, prettier sister Louisa.
Forced to retrench after the bank failure of Austen, Gray & Vincent, the Foster family optimistically pool their resources for another London Season for her sister in hopes of an advantageous alliance. While searching for more affordable lodgings, a surprising offer is presented: the use of a country manor house in Berkshire abandoned for eighteen years. The Fosters journey to the imposing Pembrooke Park and are startled to find it entombed as it was abruptly left, the tight-lipped locals offering only rumors of a secret room, hidden treasure and a murder in its mysterious past.
Eager to restore her family fortune, Abigail, with the help of the handsome local curate William Chapman and his sister Leah, begins her search into the heavily veiled past aided by unsigned journal pages from a previous resident and her own spirited determination. As old friends and new foes come calling at Pembrooke Park, secrets come to light. Will Abigail find the treasure and love she seeks...or very real danger?
I found this to be a delightful read that had both a Jane Austen and gothic vibe throughout.
Although the mystery of uncovering the "secret" runs through most of the book, it was fun to follow the main character, Abigail, go about daily living in her world. Abigail's interest in architecture and home design got me interested in floor plans and layouts of large homes and estates. Secret rooms, passages, etc are fascinating gems in a house.
And, I was treated to a masquerade ball with its dancing, etiquette and interactions in this story.
The romance of flirting and courting is genteel and proper for the time period which create some sweet moments. It was good to see that even though Abigail is in her twenties, she is still sought out as a potential partner.
* added this to my Bookish Bingo challenge - square: 2015 Debut
* review copy and giveaway courtesy of book tour - check out the other stops here.